September 28, 1912 – Auggie Heeser, editor and publisher of the Mendocino Beacon, appeared before Justice William True Wallace of the Big River Justice Court to file a formal complaint of prostitution against Mendocino residents Pearl Grant and Myrtle Cannon. Pearl and Myrtle pled not guilty.

Additional complaints were filed against their landlord Joseph Peck of Ukiah for “renting a house for immoral purposes.” This house was located on Ukiah Street just west of the Lisbon Hotel, which at that time was owned by Joseph and Teresa Borgna and known as the Sempione Hotel.

People watching a parade of horse-drawn carriages down a dirt road

Fourth of July parade on Ukiah Street, c. 1900. There are two costumed people: a woman dressed as the Goddess of Liberty (Columbia), and a man dressed as Uncle Sam. This photo looks southwest on Ukiah at the intersection with Kasten. The two-story building on the right is the First Odd Fellows hall with its distinctive corner decorations (quoins). A flag is being flown in front of the Lisbon House, and the next house to the right is Pearl’s house. (Gift of Nannie Escola)

This wasn’t the first time Pearl had been in trouble with the law. The county sheriff regularly arrested hotel and brothel owners for violating the ordinance prohibiting liquor sales in the “dry” town of Mendocino. In January 1910, the Beacon identified Pearl as a “proprietor of a house of ill-fame” when she pled guilty to a charge of selling whiskey in a dry town and was fined $75. The following September she pled guilty to the same charge and paid another fine of $150. Pearl was also one of 15 people arrested for selling alcohol in Mendocino during the first week of October in 1911. Collectively, the group paid $900 in fines.

We don’t know what became of Pearl, but the June 1980 Mendocino Historical Review on Hotels and Saloons notes that Miles Paoli (or his father) bought Pearl’s house. The Paolis were living there in 1947 when a fire burned “Pearl’s old pad” to the ground. “They were able to save most of the contents of their home before the building collapsed and was destroyed by the flames.” Miles built another home on this site in 1948.

Now through November 27th, the Kelley House Museum invites you to explore one of life’s certainties—death—through a new exhibit on funeral customs followed throughout Mendocino’s history. Far from an exploration of the macabre, the exhibit reveals the artistry of headstone carvings and mourning parlor décor. Marvel at the business side of burial, as seen in undertaker’s ledgers and burial plot invoices. Historic photos showing the funeral practices observed amongst Mendocino’s diverse cultures, include one of a Taoist altar and another of Pomo baskets used for the deceased.